NBC's Chuck Todd reports CBO criticism of stimulus, but not Democrats' response

››› ››› DIANNA PARKER

On NBC's Nightly News, Chuck Todd reported that President Obama "drew more criticism from Republicans [...] thanks to a new report claiming the stimulus will take years, not months, to improve the economy" and aired a clip of House Minority Leader John Boehner criticizing the stimulus plan. However, Todd did not mention the Democratic leadership's response: that the Congressional Budget Office report ignored faster-moving provisions in the stimulus, creating a "false impression" of the plan's effects.

On the January 21 broadcast of NBC's Nightly News, senior White House correspondent Chuck Todd reported that President Obama "drew more criticism from Republicans today thanks to a new report claiming the stimulus will take years, not months, to improve the economy" and aired a clip of House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) criticizing the stimulus plan by saying, "When it comes to slow-moving government spending programs, it's clear that doesn't create the jobs or preserve the jobs that need to happen." However, Todd did not mention the Democratic leadership's response: that the Congressional Budget Office report ignored faster-moving provisions in the stimulus, creating a "false impression" of the plan's effects. By contrast, in a similar report on ABC's World News, senior congressional correspondent Jonathan Karl aired Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner's testimony highlighting portions of the stimulus package that Geithner said "should work very, very quickly."

Indeed, Karl reported that "Republicans seized on a new report by the Congressional Budget Office that said much of the construction money in the bill won't be spent until the end of 2010" and aired a portion of Geithner's January 21 confirmation hearing, during which Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) said: "Only a tiny amount of the stimulus package is actually going into the economy in the next two years. How does that help stimulate our economy?" Karl then aired Geithner's response: "The entire package includes a substantial amount of tax incentives that should work very, very quickly."

Moreover, a January 20 Washington Post article about the CBO report said that "House Democrats and administration officials said that by leaving out the tax cuts and spending on the poor, the CBO report focuses on the slowest-spending parts of the proposal. Even there, small changes to the measure could have a huge effect, they said. For instance, Democrats said that if states were given a different deadline for spending highway money, analysts predict the spend-out rate would be accelerated significantly." The article continued:

"The new CBO report does not take into account the fastest spending provisions in the bill, leaving the false impression that the overall spend-out rates are slower than they actually are," said Brendan Daly, a spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). "These provisions will go out quickly to give the economy a jolt while others will represent down payments on crucial priorities for our economic future -- investments in clean energy, health care, education and repairing our nation's infrastructure."

A January 21 Dow Jones article (subscription required) that also addressed Democrats' response to the report said that "Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters that Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, called the report 'wrong' and 'misleading.' According to Reid, Inouye said that 'because of the financial markets, the economic problems we've had, the money's going to go out much faster than that.' "

Further, senior Obama adviser David Axelrod said during Fox News' January 20 inauguration coverage that the CBO report "will be the subject of discussion" and that Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag -- who formerly headed the CBO -- "has a different view of how this is going to work." Axelrod said that the "point that's being missed here is that a lot of these investments are ones that are going to pay dividends in the short term and the long term, and that's what we tried to fashion, a package that would do both."

From the January 21 broadcast of NBC's Nightly News with Brian Williams:

TODD: Then later, it was the president as keeper of the people's house. The first couple also assumed the task of serving as cultural role models. Holing up with his economic team, the president drew more criticism from Republicans today thanks to a new report claiming the stimulus will take years, not months, to improve the economy.

BOEHNER: When it comes to slow-moving government spending programs, it's clear that doesn't create the jobs or preserve the jobs that need to happen.

From the January 21 broadcast of ABC's World News with Charles Gibson:

KARL: Geithner said he's confident the $825 billion mix of spending and tax cuts will get the economy moving. But Republicans seized on a new report by the Congressional Budget Office that said much of the construction money in the bill won't be spent until the end of 2010.

ENSIGN: Only a tiny amount of the stimulus package is actually going into the economy in the next two years. How does that help stimulate our economy?

GEITHNER: The entire package includes a substantial amount of tax incentives that should work very, very quickly.

From the 8 a.m. ET hour of Fox News' January 20 inauguration coverage:

BRET BAIER (anchor): You mentioned the realities of the office setting in, especially on the economy. Today, we see a story that really wasn't covered. The Congressional Budget Office yesterday put out figures, an estimate of the infrastructure spending in the proposed stimulus package that House Democrats, at least, have laid out. And it says less than half of the $30 billion in highway construction funds, for example, would be released into the economy over the next four years. That's from the CBO, less than $4 billion in highway construction would reach the economy by 2010. And only one in seven dollars of the $18.5 billion investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy would be spent within a year and a half.

The president-elect has been trying to sell this economic stimulus package. What about those figures from the Congressional Budget Office?

AXELROD: Well, first of all, I think those figures will be the subject of discussion. Peter Orszag, who used to head the Congressional Budget Office, of course, is our budget director. I think he has a different view of how this is going to work.

But the point is that we have to act, and there are going to be -- there's going to be discussion and debate about any action we take. But right now, the economy is sliding and we have to intervene and turn that around.

The other point that's being missed here is that a lot of these investments are ones that are going to pay dividends in the short term and the long term, and that's what we tried to fashion, a package that would do both by investing in energy independence, alternative energy development, by investing in health-care computerization of our national health-care records so that we can reduce costs and improve care by investing in the classrooms of the 21st century. These are going to pay dividends in the long term as well as the short term.

So I think the American people are very supportive of this package. They want us to act. We should have a discussion and a debate, but we ought to move with all deliberate speed here because we do have a national emergency when it comes to the economy, and that will be our first order of business.

Posted In
Economy, Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment, Poverty, Taxes
Network/Outlet
NBC, ABC
Person
Chuck Todd, Jonathan Karl
Show/Publication
ABC World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News
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